Kaizen Continuous Improvement tools for lean management

 

A3 Report Template

A3 Template to apply A3 thinking and the Lean A3 Problem Solving Method

A3 Report

Much more than just a tool, A3 Problem Solving is a simple method to systematically:

  1. Define and solve problems
  2. Teach managers how to better coach, mentor, and lead
  3. Instill a way of thinking that causes entire teams of people to sharply focus their minds on the foundational Lean ways of seeing process flows and wastes — constantly redirecting their attention back to the foundational Lean teachings:

    Internet icon Lean Objectives and Ideals

    A3 Interview Excel template   A3 Approvals

    Internet icon The Seven Deadly Types of Waste 

    (which are really brought home when you
    use the A3 Gemba Interview template)

  4. Empower people to implement their great ideas

    (using a field-proven A3 approval system)

 

Download your free A3 Report template

 

Download free trials — which include a full working version
of this A3 Report template (not just a trial)


A3 Template

The A3 Report is a simple storyboard that tells the whole story of an improvement event on one large sheet of paper.
(The international A3 paper size is 297 x 420 millimeters. In the United States, 11 x 17 inch paper is used.)

The left side defines the problem — the right side proposes solutions.

 

A3 template

 

A good A3 should tell a story — bringing a problem to life and pointing the way to a better future.


Bookmark = printer

Use ANY printer to create A3 reports

The Systems2win A3 report template is formatted to use ANY printer to create A3 reports.

Here's how to do it...

The standard template starts with two 8 1/2 x 11 pages
(or international paper size A4)

  • which is ideal for an A3 Report, because the right and left halves of the report serve distinctly different functions
  • and the two pages can be easily viewed and edited side-by-side
    using View > Print Layout > Multiple Pages

If all you have is a small printer...

  • Simply tape the 2 printed pages together
  • You can still create a PDF in 11x17 or A3 paper size

Simply select your PDF Writer as your printer
when you follow the instructions below

For a printer that is capable of printing 11x17 or A3 paper...

File > Print > Printer:

select a printer or PDF writer
capable of printing 11x17 or A3 paper

File > Print > Page Setup, or...

Page Setup icon

Word 2007: Page Layout Tab >
click the tiny icon

(circled in the picture)

(Word 2003: File > Page Setup)

  • Paper tab
    (see images to the right >>>)
    • Paper size: A3 or Tabloid 11x17
      Tip: your printer must support this paper size.
    • Apply to: Whole document
  • Margins tab
    (see images to the right >>>)
    • Orientation: Landscape
    • Multiple pages: 2 pages per sheet

If you have not yet installed free PDF writing software

The (vastly inferior) PDF writing feature that comes with Microsoft Office is not capable of printing 2 pages per sheet,
so you will need to either:

  1. Print 2 separate pages, or
  2. Follow or instructions to
    download and use free PDF writing software
Page Setup Paper tab
Page Setup Margins

Bookmark = storyboard

Word is the ideal tool to construct your A3 storyboard

We decided to make this a Word template (rather than an Excel template)
because Microsoft Word provides unmatched flexibility to allow wildly diverse formats — and anyone that has ever seen more than a dozen A3 Reports knows that it is rare for any two to look alike.

Because all of your Systems2win continuous improvement tools are written in Word and Excel —
it is VERY easy to populate your A3 report with screenshots — using:

  1. Print Screen or Copy As Picture (to copy a selected Excel range as a picture)
  2. Paste Special (to paste a copied Excel range as a picture)

Common tools used for illustrating A3 Reports include...

Value Stream Map

Value Stream Map

A3 Illustrator

Stick Figure A3 Illustrator

Flow chart

Flow charts

Layout diagram

Layout Diagram

Root cause fishbone diagram

Root Cause Fishbone

Excel charts

Charts

Gantt Summary

Gantt Summary
or Value Stream Plan

Any other drawing

Anything you can
draw with Excel


Examples of A3 Reports

This same A3 template can be used in MANY diverse ways:

To see many diverse sample A3 Reports — refer to the books in our Suggested Reading.

 

Three Types of A3 Storyboards

Although the Problem Solving A3 Report is by far the most popular, there are 2 other common variations:

  1. The Proposal A3 — which emphasizes the Planning phase of PDCA — because its purpose is to propose a course of action — which will only be implemented if the proposal is accepted. So the proposed DCA section is often condensed into one short section — leaving more room for the proposal.
  2. The Status A3 — which emphasizes the Check phase of PDCA — because its purpose is to succinctly summarize the results of a course of action that has already been implemented (perhaps partially, or completely).

The A3 Storyboard format can be VERY flexible

There is no one single correct template for an A3.

It is the spirit of dialog, not the piece of paper, that is important.

As long as you're using the A3 Problem Solving Approach, and you are able to
keep your deliverable on one piece of paper, then you have great flexibility to format your storyboard
in any way that most effectively "tells your entire story" — from problem through proposed solution.

Your goal is not to "quickly fill in the blanks of an A3 Report".
Your goal is to harness all of the benefits of the A3 problem solving method . . .


Benefits of the A3 problem solving method

  • Provide a single, easy-to-use approach for problem solving — that can be applied to ANY type of problem.
    (When everyone knows what someone means when they say "Let's do an A3", it frees people up to focus on the roots of problems — without needing to reinvent new ways of working together)
  • Encourage people to identify problems, and bring them to attention   
    (in contrast to hiding problems, or pretending that there aren't any)
  • Stimulate group dialog and creative problem-solving — building consensus based on objective, indisputable observed facts
    (in contrast to one person trying to “sell” their half-baked ideas and subjective opinions)
  • Break people of the bad habit of jumping to solution decisions before even defining the root causes
    (and the bad habit of being the heroic fire fighter, instead of preventing fires in the first place)
  • Empower the people closest to the work to share responsibility for improving their work
    (in contrast with top-down command and control that discourages workers from thinking and caring)
  • Encourage managers to manage the means of production by truly understanding the dirty details
    (in contrast to the just-show-me-results Management By Objective approach so popular with so many MBA schools)
  • Instill an organizational culture of “learning to learn”
    (not just doing what you're told — but instilling more effective ways of thinking, working, and learning together) 
  • Groom new leaders in a scientifically repeatable way
    (that actually demonstrate how to lead — and how to mentor their own people to also become new leaders) 
  • Provide a systematic logical thinking process — teaching people to see, understand and synthesize
    cause and effect relationships — in visual, succinct ways that anyone can understand at a glance

Bookmark = Method

The A3 Problem Solving Method

(how to do it)

A3 Standard Operating Procedure templateDownload the printable A3 Standard Operating Procedure
as part of your free trials

Licensed customers are able to edit this Word template to document and publish their own A3 Problem Solving Method —
(so licensed customers should download from your portal the PDF that might have been edited to reflect your company's own policies — which might be slightly different from the original template as delivered from Systems2win)

Tip: Also consider other problem solving methods


Bookmark = Readings

Suggested Readings for A3 Problem Solving

To learn more about A3 management, and see many examples of A3 reports, we suggest the following books & resources:

                       
"The art of progress consists in maintaining order within our processes of change,
and change within our processes of order."                                                         Dr. Alfred North Whitehead

And for alternative or supplemental approaches to problem solving, we suggest the following resources:

                       

More Suggested Reading


The PowerPoint alternative to a Status A3 Report

An A3 Status Report has several advantages over PowerPoint:

Kaizen Presentation of Results PowerPoint
  1. The entire presentation is on one page — communicating faster and more holistically
  2. It forces a more concise and systematic thought process when preparing the report
  3. It is more easily archived and distributed —
    along with all other documents related to the project (usually in PDF format,
    which is readable to everyone)

As an alternative (or supplement) to an A3 Status Report, many Kaizen Events and projects
will be summarized with a PowerPoint Presentation of Results — which has the following . . .

Advantages

  1. Less time to create

    If you have ever created your own A3 Reports, you know how much time you spend trying to move things around and rephrase things to just barely fit everything on that one page — and it's even more time-consuming when you hand write your A3's. Kaizen Events simply don't have that kind of spare time.

  2. It reveals the story

    by revealing and building upon one concept at a time — which is how human brains process information

    (unpiling the onion in layers is especially desirable in a live presentation, and increases the percent of information assimilated even when published in HTML format for on-demand viewing)

  3. It can be scaled

    to any size including:

    a) one-page thumbnail summary

    b) one page per slide — perhaps then printed and posted on bulletin board

    (posting large printed results on a bulletin board in a high-traffic hallway is a great way to publicize Lean success stories)

  4. It is more flexible

    to effectively "tell the story." More flexible in both length and format.

    The good news is that you don't need to choose. Your Systems2win templates come with both types of templates:

    • A3 Report, and...
    • PowerPoint Presentation of Results

    so that you can choose the best way(s) to communicate YOUR story to YOUR audience(s).

Typical Headings for a PowerPoint Presentation of Results

  1. Problem or Issue

    Why is Change Needed?
    Scope of team charter — including clear definition of where the target process begins and ends

  2. Current Conditions

    A graphic illustration using one or two tools for continuous improvement to depict the As Is or As Was state

  3. Root Cause Analysis

    Either using a root cause analysis fishbone diagram, or simple indented text for each layer of "why?"

  4. Objectives, Measures, and Targets

    And any Boundaries that differ from the pre-published Boundaries for any Continuous Improvement Event

  5. Tools & Methods Used

    A summary of process improvement tools and methods used

  6. Improvements Implemented

    Perhaps starting with a limited test, but the goal of a Kaizen Event is to actually implement the changes before the end of the 1 to 5 day Kaizen Event — including user training

  7. After Condition

    Using the same one or two graphic Lean tools to depict the After or Desired state

  8. Implementation Plan

    Perhaps a Value Stream Plan or 30-Day Action List for any improvements not already completed
    Potential obstacles to sustainability – and plans for how to address them

  9. Issues & Ideas

    Issues & Ideas that came up that were not addressed as part of this improvement event, but should be addressed in the future

  10. Team Members

    Recognition is one of the most important rewards

  11. Success Measures Results Metrics

    Objectives, Measures, and Targets — with starting, expected, and actual results

    Actual results are added with each follow-up audit — and audits continue every 30 days until targets are achieved and sustained


Get this A3 Report template

AND all of the Kaizen tools
AND all of the Lean Management tools
AND all of the Project Management tools
AND all of the Strategic Planning tools
AND all of the Software Project tools

as part of the Kaizen & Project Tools bundle

 

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to empower every member of your team
with the tools they need
to improve what they do

 

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